Affordable Care Act Updates — ‘Navigators’ to help spread the word on the state’s MNsure health exchange



MSR Health thumbBy Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


“Under the Affordable Care Act, every plan in the marketplace has to cover a set of 10 essential benefits [such as] prescription drugs, lab services, hospitalization, emergency care, mental health care [and] maternity coverage,” said Families USA Health Policy Analyst Sarah Bagge during a March 22 webcast for reporters, including the MSR.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to applying” for health coverage, she added.  “People will have different preferences in terms of how they want to sign up for health coverage,” whether on line, in person or by phone. “We have to recognize that there are going to be a lot of consumers that are going to need help or have questions,” Bagge explained.

The “consumer-friendly” application process as well as other pertinent information will be available in Spanish and other languages besides English, Bagge continued. “We want to make sure that it is as easy as possible, and help needs to be available at every step of the way.”

There are many people who are digitally connected, but to expect every consumer to apply for health coverage on line “is unreasonable,” believes Enroll America Best Practices Institute Director Jenny Sullivan. Her research found that buying health insurance on line “is taking it a step too far for most folk. Over half of those surveyed said buying insurance is different from buying shoes or buying a plane ticket. It is an important decision.”

Some consumers may want “over-the-shoulder assistance” while they are shopping and deciding on coverage, Sullivan added. “Three-quarters of those reported who are interested in on-line coverage do want help in person, and those numbers are even higher in communities of color. People want to feel confident, secure and in control when making decisions.”

Sullivan stated that each state is expected to set up a “navigator” system that will assist people in getting health coverage through the new marketplaces, receiving “consistent accurate information, and if we don’t know the answers, connecting them to people who do.”

The MSR asked the webcast panelists what if any legacy Black organizations are committed to partnering with their organizations. Enroll America Managing Director Chris Wyant, responded, “The [national] NAACP is on our advisory council and is an important partner of ours.”

Also, Families USA will set up an outreach team that “will have an African American director who will work on…building coalitions on a national level to make sure that we are working with the right organizations and also at the state level…making sure that we are designing programs for the people that are organizing in communities, and that the organizers themselves are reflective of those communities.”

“We have over 50 different partners, all of whom represent different constituencies,” said Bagge.


Watch the MSR’s health pages for more “Affordable Care Act Updates.”

For more information, go to Enroll America’s website: or the MNsure website,

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